'Fugitive' Immigrant Arrests Up Advocates Warn That Just a Fraction of Those Held Have Criminal Records

Article excerpt

Byline: Emily Krone


Federal officials announced Tuesday they have made significant strides toward reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the area who have committed serious crimes or eluded deportation.

The announcement came a day after suburban law enforcement officials said they had petitioned to take part in a controversial program adopted by communities where federal efforts to combat illegal immigration have fallen short.

In fiscal year 2007, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested 1,043 immigrants previously tagged for deportation in the six-state area that encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin, a Tuesday statement from ICE said.

That's about twice as many as in 2006, when Chicago teams targeting "fugitive" immigrants arrested 520.

The announcement lauded increased manpower and improved cooperation with local law enforcement agencies.

But some suburban law enforcement officials have deemed even the increased manpower and improved cooperation insufficient to combat the problem of illegal immigration in their communities.

On Monday, Lake County sheriff's officials said they were joining Carpentersville and Waukegan police in requesting training for local officers to do deportation paperwork.

Lake County sheriff's officials and federal immigration agents have collaborated in the past, most recently in November on a sweep in Round Lake that netted three illegal immigrants wanted on felony warrants, Chief Michael Blazincic said.

Still, federal officials lack the resources to rid the county of all the violent criminals who are in the country illegally, Lake County Sheriff Michael Curran said Tuesday.

"Knowing that they're undermanned, and knowing that we're responsible for the entire county," Curran said, "we're stepping up to the plate."

Nationally, ICE fugitive teams, which target illegal immigrants who fail to appear for immigration hearings or disappear after they are ordered to leave the country, arrested 30,408 people in fiscal 2007, up from 15,462 the previous year. …